Thursday, November 29, 2012

C, Advent 1 – Luke 21:25-36 “A Global Warning”

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The weather is always a topic for discussion. It seems many watch the weather with fear placing their hopes in favourable outcomes. In recent times we hear much about global warming; the planet is getting hotter and therefore weather events are becoming more extreme and unexpectedly occurring at times of the year when they shouldn't.
This causes one of a number of things to happen. Some are whipped into hysteria like Henny Penny frantically running around in fear that the sky will collapse. Then some go on an environmental crusade to save the planet; even to the extreme of sacrificing their life or the lives of others in the name of the cause. Then again there are the cynics who refuse to believe there is anything wrong; that changes in climate, extinction of species, the hole in the ozone, and the melting of the ice caps are just cycles the earth is going through at this point in time.
How are we to react as Christians when we hear of such things? Should we become warring zealots for the cause? Should we become alternate and live like hippies? Should we treat global warming with scepticism and bury our heads in the sand? Or should we just keep on doing what we've been doing and teaching following generations to follow our practices?
Maybe there's another reaction called for here! One most of us fail to do when we are drawn into various environmental debates, or any debate that grab the interest of people on earth!
When we're drawn into discussion; where we call into question a practice or ponder a position what invariably happens is our focus is narrowed to the arguments of the dialogue and how it might impact me, my family, my town, my country, or my world. The problem here being, we forget about our Sovereign, yours and my Father in heaven. He who sees the big picture of me, my family, my community, my world!
Another anomaly of humanity's thought patterns over the last couple hundred of years is when things happen on earth we all seem to play the game of blame. Rarely is it ever me, my family, my community, etc. After all we are always one of the good guys, never the crooks! It's always the fault of them, the devil, the evil people, or perhaps even God!
This phenomenon is not how it's always been. Once communities large and small would view themselves in the face of God, and join together in repentance for what had occurred. It was not so much about blame as it was our shame.
People realised there was only One who was not to blame, and this One was the only one who could help the situation, and the suffering. People once recognised the faithfulness of God, the One Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Provider, the Redeemer, and the One who makes us Holy, and therefore whole with God's community! There is only one cause of our pain and suffering in which we all play a part. We are the collective one of humanity. You and I have much for which to answer before God!
Jesus says to you… Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Luke 21:32–33 ESV)
Deep down within there's a part of us all that secretly says, "No, no, no! Not me, not my generation, not this generation! Jesus is talking about some other time!" But regardless when the second coming of Jesus Christ comes, on the last day of creation or your last day of human life, it takes place to each person of each generation one way or another. Even so, God and his word will never pass away or die!
Nevertheless, we can suppose people will act in the same manner as do we to the news of global warming or some other event to affect us. Focus will be turned to the catastrophic events unfolding where as all events in our lives need turn us all the more to the Supplier, Saviour, and Sanctifier of all temporal and eternal things.
As Paul said to the church in Thessalonians, as pastors and others have called the church since, and I and my forbears cry out on behalf of Christ…
For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:9–13 ESV)
We, who have ministered to you, urge you to step aside from the blame game which the world loves to play, and join in with the same claim as Christ, "The Lord is our righteousness." After all Jesus has fulfilled ALL righteousness taking the blame for our sinful game, which is a most deadly game.
Now we might question the motives of those who play us on the global warming debate. We might be looking for someone to blame for the waves of financial crisis in which we as a greedy world immerses ourselves. We might fervently believe one political equation is better for our country that than another. Rightly or wrongly we might be sceptical or concerned or called to action over events that happen in our world.
But, even so, if we fail to heed the global warning of God's word, everything else is done in vane! We might warm ourselves to our heart's content doing all sorts of powerful or great deeds, but it won't help us one iota in the big picture of eternity and true life.
And so, "there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25–28 ESV)
Life as we know it will change. The question is not whether it will but when it will and will you be ready for the change? None of us know if we will witness the last day of creation, but all of us will know our last created day of life and have to bear witness to our days before the Creator.
Creation is groaning under the weight of sin, yours and mine! God the Son will fix and finalise creation when he returns but he will be looking to see if you and I have trusted in his righteousness to make us holy. Have you been awake in him and his righteousness to withstand all the crazy stuff that's going to take place between now and then?
Consequently, "watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34–36 ESV)
The dissipation of this life, that is the amusements distractions and headaches of life, the drunkenness of this life, or the intoxication intemperance and wantonness of our world, and the cares of this life have the power to take our focus off the important things. These are the things that remain forever, The Son of God — the Word made flesh, our Father in heaven, and the gathering fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
The environmental globe might be warming, the power of the market may be diminishing, the weather might be bad one day and good the next, but what we can be confident of is this: the world is hot with sin; Jesus took the heat on himself on a hill at the cross, and in hell. And he did this to redeem and to sanctify you so you might trust in him and the Father to provide for you as you walk in the weariness of this world. This is a global warning that's truly heart warming in heavenly hope!
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:11–13 ESV)